Perceptions of the impact of Upward Bound on academic success: Case studies of Northeast Latino students and graduates

Date of Completion

January 2010


Education, Evaluation|Education, Multilingual|Hispanic American Studies




Latinos are dropping out of high school at rates much higher than that of other racial or cultural groups. Many Latino students, however, are trying to achieve academic success through their participation in specially-designed programs such as Upward Bound. A program that is funded by the federal government, Upward Bound aims to increase the rate at which socioeconomically disadvantaged students and students placed at risk for failure complete high school and enroll in and graduate from college. In Connecticut, a large portion of the Upward Bound program, which is merged with the state-funded ConnCAP program, occurs during the summer Each summer after the ninth, tenth, and eleventh grades, approximately one hundred Upward Bound/ConnCAP students from four Connecticut cities spend six weeks living on the University of Connecticut's campus. There, they participate in a rigorous program designed to advance their academic skills in literature, composition, foreign languages, science, and mathematics (Upward Bound/ConnCAP, 2003). ^ During the 2008 summer program at the University of Connecticut, I investigated the experiences and perceptions of eight Latino students and graduates of the program through a series of three semi-structured interviews (Seidman, 2006). Some questions that were explored include how the students and graduates perceive or did perceive the effects of their participation in the Upward Bound/ConnCAP summer program in relation to their success in high school and their preparation and planning for college and their futures. I also asked the students and graduates to identify the components of the Upward Bound/ConnCAP summer program that they believe are the most effective for achieving school success and college attendance. ^ I simultaneously performed data collection and analysis, using the constant comparative method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Interviews were coded within the framework of Role-Identity Theory and the theory of Accommodation without Assimilation. Findings suggest that aside from the academic portion, many participants perceive social aspects of the Upward Bound/ConnCAP summer program as helping them achieve success. It is also shown that many participants' activities outside of Upward Bound/ConnCAP are compatible with the ideals and goals set forth by the program and are perceived as helpful in reaching those goals. ^